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Denise Cortez
Professor Jackie
English 114B
May 13, 2014
Word Count: 1492
Contradiction of a Real Hero
A hero is someone who turns his or her personal virtue into a civic virtue. They put
the needs of others before their own needs. In the comic, Watchmen, heroes are portrayed
in a different perspective of what a real hero should be. Heroes were portrayed as having to
act brutal to prevent harm. Typically, heroes are to take action without causing any harm,
but in Watchmen that was not the case. If causing harm to another individual was the only
way to satisfy their own needs or to help another person, then that’s exactly what they
would do. Throughout the whole story, the characters performed different “heroic actions”,
but the only real hero was Rorschach. Unlike the others, he put the safety and needs of
others before his own and he wanted justice.
A hero isn’t someone that makes sacrifices that they will benefit from as well, but
someone who makes sacrifices in the benefit of others. Alan Moore portrayed some of his
heroes the complete opposite meaning from Alex Lickerman’s definition of a hero. “What
actually makes a hero? I'd argue it's the willingness to make a personal sacrifice for the
benefit of others,” claims Alex Lickerman. Some of Alan Moore’s characters portrayed
heroic actions, but they were for their own benefit. For example, Adrian Veidt who was
seen as a superhero, bombed half of the city because it was his way of “peace,” but all he did
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was satisfy his will. Although the characters may have act to benefit themselves, they did
satisfy some needs of others.
The characters fought for the good of others, but they acted different from the real
perspective of what a real hero should be. Adrian Veidt was seen as a superhero, but in
reality all he was fighting for was for his own benefit. Alan Moore portrayed him as a
“superhero” wanting to prevent World War III by killing half of New York City and anyone
who would get in the way of his plan. Although his prevention was a good deed, the way he
acted upon preventing it was not the right decision. He could have gone about another
route to help prevent the war. Even though the story portrayed this side of him, they also
portrayed a good side of him. When he was just a kid, his parents passed away and left all
their fortune to him. He decided to give it all away to those in need. This act may seem
questionable of whether it’s a heroic action or not because he wanted to prove a point, but
the fact that he gave away everything he had to the less fortunate makes it a heroic action.
It seems that Veidt went through a transition as he got older. Unlike Veidt, Rorschach
actually cared about the well-being of others. He made sure justice was served for those
who were harmed by the evil of others. Veidt wasn’t the only one that changed throughout
time, Jon, who later became known as Dr. Manhattan, also changed after his incident in the
test chamber.
At first, Jon was a good guy that cared about humanity. He seemed to fit the
characteristics of a hero, but one day everything changed. Ever since the incident in the test
chamber everything went downhill, he lost all feelings and emotions towards everyone and
everything. He considered himself different from humans and had no concern for their
well-being. Before he even got his power, he was human just like the rest of the
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superheroes and cared about the well-being and safety of others. Although, after his
accident, Dr. Manhattan did help the government fight in wars against other nations, at the
end he showed his true colors, he only cared about himself. When Laurie tried convincing
him to help prevent World War III, he was in denial and found no point in him helping to
save the world. She asked him if it didn’t bother him that humanity was about to become
extinct and he responded, “All that pain and conflict done with? All that needless suffering
over at last? No, that doesn’t bother me.” (Moore and Gibbons 9. 286). As long as he was
living on Mars, no one else mattered. She even tried bringing back memories that they had
together to see if it would help soften him up a bit, but it seemed to be pointless. He argued
that human life was not much more significant than the isolation he liked in Mars. He was
the only one who had the full power to stop the war, but he did nothing. A real hero
wouldn’t have cared about his or her own needs before others, but Jon cared more about
himself and therefore he isn’t consider a hero. Even at the end of the story he showed the
real side of him, he did nothing to stop Veidt when he found about Veidt’s plans and how he
had made it seem as if Dr. Manhattan was the one behind the attack. He decided to just
leave without telling anyone who had done it and even killed Rorschach.
Rorschach had an unemotional personality and never really talked about his
personal life or emotions with anyone, but was much more of a hero than the other
characters. He actually cared about the well being of others and would go out of his way to
help. When he had the case of a little girl who had been kidnapped, he broke into the
kidnapper’s house at night to find the girl, but all he found were the remains of the little
girl. Ever since, everything changed for him, he wanted every criminal to be punished for
what they had done and that’s exactly what he did. He got the criminals he captured sent to
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prison to pay for their actions. This caused others to hate him, but he didn’t care as long as
justice was being done. He wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything, it’s as if nothing could stop
him but his own self. Rorschach was probably the only character that seemed to be disliked
by many, but was the only one that truly cared about justice. He never acted based on his
suspicions until he was sure that he was right. During the time that the Comedian had been
killed and Jon had been exile, he was suspicious that it was all a set up and part of a plan,
but he wasn’t sure who it could be or if he was even right. After the attack made on Veidt,
that’s when he started going in detail to link the attack with the murder of the Comedian
and Jon’s exile. The person who was behind all this knew that Rorschach would catch up to
them, so they set him up in a crime scene and he was taken into prison. Rorschach never
did anything wrong, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. All he
was trying to do was find the person responsible for the attacks being made on the
Minutemen and stop him from harming the rest of them. If it wouldn’t have been for
Rorschach, the rest of the costumed heroes would have probably been in danger or even
dead. Once Rorschach was broken out of prison by Nite Owl and Laurie, he didn’t just want
to sit back and go home, but rather go and find out who had killed the comedian and set
him up. You could tell he really wanted to get to the bottom of the situation when he told
Nite Owl, “How much longer? Tired of skulking down here. Impatient work to be done.”
(Moore and Gibbons 10.314). His urge to get to work demonstrates that he was determined
to find out who was behind the death of the comedian. When Rorschach and Nite Owl
finally found out that Adrian Veidt was behind the attacks made against the Minutemen,
Jon’s exile, and the attack on New York City, Rorschach was killed by Dr. Manhattan
because unlike the rest of them, Rorschach wasn’t going to stay quiet about who was
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responsible. Rorschach lived his whole life serving justice and died for always living up to
his purpose.
Alan Moore leaves us questioning the idea of what a superhero really is. His
perspective and portrayal of superheroes is different from what we readers thought it
would be. Of course he portrayed the characters with good personalities trying to save
people and to make a change in the world, but the way they did it was not the way society
considers a hero to act. His characters do reflect heroism, but you can’t really consider
them as heroes for certain actions they did, except for Rorschach. Rorschach was the only
one that stayed loyal to his own self and carried on with his purpose. At the end, Dr.
Manhattan and Adrian Veidt only cared about themselves.

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Works Cited
Moore Alan, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 1986. Print.

Lickerman, Alex. "What Makes A Hero" September 19, 2010.Web. February 2,2014.

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